Question for Betty.

What is the treatment for vitiligo?

Betty's Answer.

There are a number of skin disorders causing hypopigmentation, including vitiligo, tinea versicolor, and pityriasis alba, along with other less common disorders.  It is very important to see a healthcare provider for a thorough examination, diagnosis and treatment plan.

Vitiligo is a skin condition marked by the loss of skin pigment, leaving patches or whole areas of the body completely white.  The white patches of skin are caused by the loss of cells that produce melanin, which are responsible for providing skin pigment.  The cause is unknown.  Treatment depends on the extent of the skin lesions.  It may involve therapy to repigment the areas through corticosteroids and ultraviolet light; involve using sunscreens to minimize the skin contrast; or the use of special makeup.

Tinea versicolor, is a common superficial fungal infection.  The skin may have lighter patches, darker patches, or both light and dark patches.  Even though tinea versicolor is caused by a fungus, it does NOT spread from one person to another.  People often notice this problem more in the summer when affected areas of the skin stand out because they don't get tan from the sun.  Diagnosis by your healthcare provider would be with a skin scraping, prepared with potassium hydroxide, viewed under a microscope, or by use of a special light called a Wood's lamp.  Treatment is with topical antifungal cream or shampoo or oral medication.

Pityriasis alba is a common finding, often occurring prior to puberty.  The face, neck, and arms are the most common sites.  The lesions are scaly hypopigmented.  The condition gradually improves after puberty.  Treatment consists of lubrication.

It is important to see a healthcare provider to evaluate your particular condition, provide an acurate diagnosis and for treatment.